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CONCEPTS ON ACTING

The Elements of Style, as described by Sonia More in her simplified view


of the Stanlislavski System, are clear rudimentary concepts designed to help ac
tors achieve a profound and truthful portrayal of their character on the stage t
hrough personal connection with their character. These concepts are designed as
tools for the actor so that he may connect to a character or situation on the s
tage that he otherwise would not be able to connect with.
As Sonia Moore put it, Stanlislovski knew that an actor's mind, will, an
d emotions must participate in the creation of a live human being on the stage.
He also understood that it is impossible for people to turn their thoughts and
emotions on and off as if by a switch. He also knew that no actor coming on st
age without any reason for experiencing emotions would be unable to do so withou
t some connection, or bridge, to the personal and emotional response of their ch
aracter. So Stanlislovski designed tool for the actor to use to help him connec
t with the emotional and physical world of his character.
Such concepts as The Magic If is a clear example of a tool an actor cou
ld use to connect himself the life of the character. The Magic If, simply guide
s the actor to ask the simple question: "What would I do if I were in my charact
er position?" By asking this question of himself the actor can personalize the
given circumstances of the character. The situation of the character becomes mo
re personal, and the stakes much higher, because the actor has divulged some par
ticular issues of himself into the character. Due to these particularities the
actor will work out the given circumstance of the character in a much more truth
ful manner. Even in acting the old saying goes: "You cannot really know someone
until you walk a mile in their shoes." This concept of The Magic If also plays
a big part in another Element of Action -Imagination.
Imagination is another tool that allows the actor to build a substantial
relationship with his character by creating the very universe in which his char
acter resides. Through this artistic imagination the actor can create the past,
present, and future of the character. The actor, in essence, could play God wh
erein the character is concerned apart from given circumstances or the circumst
ances that exist within the play. This artistic imagination is being used to gi
ve thoughts and feeling to the character being portrayed by simply infusing hone
sty and truthfulness into the actor's performance.
There are other Element's of Actions that guide the actor to form precis
e, logical and honest connections to the character he is portraying --Emotional
Memory and Tempo-Rhythm for instance. However, the duality of the Elements of A
ction are in the ways they connect the actor to the emotional state of his chara
cter, as well as the physical reality of the story, the audience, and the other
characters that exist in the story. In the same as there are Elements of Actio
n that connect the actor to the emotional side of the character, there are also
those that connect the actor to the physical elements of acting and the physical
element of the character. There are also concepts designed to let the actor ex
plore the relationship between characters, and the character's relation as it ex
ist within an ensemble. An example of this would be Adaptation.
Adaptation is an Element of Action that is really the overcoming of an o
bstacle to achieve personal aim. Adaptation is being perceived as the personal
choices the actor make in regard to his character while responding to outside st
imulus. By placing the Who, What, When, Where, and Why, into his movements, the
actor can achieve logic and definition to his movements or motivations. The ac
tor must know what his character is doing, and where his character is doing it i
n order for him to properly motivate his movements to fit his actions. This is s
o the actor will not appear to be moving just for the sake of moving. This prec
ise movement is what the actors use to work around the given circumstances of th
e play.
Given Circumstances are all that the actor encounters while he creates a
role. Given Circumstance could be the coming together of all external factor.
These factors are the concepts that must come into play while shaping the confin

es of a character. How we behave or act depends solely on the environment in wh


ich we exist. The actor must consider the Given Circumstance in order for the c
haracter to exist truthfully in the confine of his circumstance. For example, t
he audience would not expect to find a dainty southern bell in the heart of a Br
ooklyn ghetto slum, unless the Given Circumstance of the story was stated as suc
h. This is the tool actors can use to connect their characters to their environ
ment.
It becomes evidently clear that the Elements Of Action are basic tools i
n concept, and design for the actor to use to not only connect with his characte
r, but also with the audience and the other players in the story as well. These
elements are tools that the actor can use to consciously tap into the unconsci
ous realm of his emotional responses. Whether from Tempo-Rhythm, Concentration
or Attention, Truth and Belief, to Imagination, Given Circumstance, and Adaptati
on, all can be used by the actor to achieve a phycophysical connection into the
subconscious realm of his emotional responses. When this occurs, he can best ach
ieve improvisation due to inspiration in performance. It is this most of all, t
he Author believes, is the